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Missouri Earth Team Volunteer Transitions to Soil Conservationist

When Brittanie DeAngelo began her college career at Missouri State in 2012, she was certain that her future would include a career in animal science.  But, like many students, her first choice in major didn’t end up as her final choice.  With guidance from her college advisor, DeAngelo found her niche in the field of conservation and has spent four years with NRCS as an Earth Team volunteer, Pathways student and now, soil conservationist.

“I met with my advisor in 2012 and she asked me where my interests in agriculture lie,” DeAngelo said.  “I thought about how much I enjoyed the soil judging competitions in FFA, and from there I began looking into the field of natural resources.”

Before committing to the major, DeAngelo wanted some hands-on experience to ensure that this field would be a good fit.  Her advisor put her in touch with Regional Soil Health Specialist Doug Peterson, who suggested that DeAngelo join NRCS as an Earth Team volunteer.

Throughout the summer of 2013, DeAngelo worked 15 to 20 hours a week in the Ray County field office alongside Resource Conservationist (now Area Resource Conservationist) Beth Baragary.  Accumulating more than 200 hours of service, DeAngelo worked on wetland mitigation banks, CRP and compliance reviews, learned the ins-and-outs of Toolkit and was tasked with occasional office filing.

Looking to build on her experience, DeAngelo worked as a district intern in the Ray County field office, completing projects such as staking and checking out terraces and ponds.  In 2015, with an abundance of experience under her belt, DeAngelo graduated with a degree in natural resources.  Driven by her enjoyment of conservation, DeAngelo continued with her schooling and earned her master’s degree in plant science in 2016.

“I began as a Pathways student in the Polk County field office in the summer of 2015 and converted to a soil conservationist in Caldwell County in August of 2016,” DeAngelo said.  “It’s been a very positive experience for me.”

The Pathways Program offers federal internship and employment opportunities for current students, recent graduates and those with an advanced degree. There are three different paths available to students including the Internship program, Recent Graduates program and the Presidential Management Fellows program. DeAngelo went through the internship program.  All three programs provide ample hands-on experience to interested students, and some work opportunities offer salaries.

“I’ve been asked to speak to freshmen at Missouri State and provide suggestions for students making their way through college and into the workforce.  One of the things I consistently tell students is to volunteer.  Get your hands dirty.  Volunteer opportunities and internships provide a good way to find out if you like something, or not.  Without the volunteer experience that I had, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Students interested in volunteering with the Earth Team program need to be at least 14 years old.  For more information on how you can become involved with the Earth Team in Missouri contact the Earth Team representative nearest you or Missouri State Volunteer Coordinator Monica Siler.

Anita Dunham: Kingston, Missouri

Paul Duffner: Jefferson City, Missouri

Emily Murray: Columbia, Missouri

Kim Overton: Jackson, Missouri

Cheryl Hoback: Eldon, Missouri